Ever since Sam Adams first ran for office, I've written I'd vote for him because this is identity politics, pure and simple. But for some of my gay brothers, it's not that simple.
Take Gregg Macy, who has been with his partner, Eric Steinhauser, for more than 12 years. Macy, 51, is the meetings manager for Azumano Travel, so it's easy to see why he's supporting Adams' only viable opponent, Sho Dozono—he's worked for the guy for 19 years. But Macy says that's not why Sho has his vote.
"[Voting] is a very personal decision," Macy said from Azumano's conference room. "Sho made it clear from the beginning he would support my decision, whoever I decided to support."
And until Dozono decided to get in the race, it looked like it would be Adams all the way. "I met Sam years ago at the gym," says Macy. "We would sit in the hot tub and talk politics. I gave more money to his last campaign than I've ever given to anyone else. Eric and I even hosted parties for him."
So why not fall in step with the rest of the queer crowd and vote for Adams? Macy points to two of Adams' most hotly debated projects—his recently withdrawn proposal to move the Sauvie Island Bridge over Interstate 405, and the Burnside-Couch Street couplet—as examples of how Adams tends to focus on the flashier, less immediate issues facing our city. "I like Sam personally, but I've got to support Sho due to his leadership style, fiscal responsibility and commitment to gay and civil rights."
Macy displayed his support in a recent TV ad for Dozono that features three couples spouting, "Sho gets it." Of those couples, he and Eric are the only ones hugging. "That was my idea," says Macy about playing the gay card in the ad. "I wanted to send a message to viewers that Sho is inclusive."
By all accounts he is. Dozono was on the Governor's Task Force on Equality, a group of early supporters recognizing same-sex relationships and prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. But, oddly enough, Dozono doesn't spend a lot of time discussing that, even though the Adams campaign has made a big deal out of the fact that if elected, Sam would be the first openly gay mayor of a major U.S. city.
Dozono has an openly gay son in his 20s, Tad, who lives in New York City. But he's yet to trot out his son in support of his bid to become mayor. "It's not his style," says Macy. "He's a private man."
Now that we're down to the last days before Oregon's May 20 primary, it will be interesting to see if Dozono will try harder to court the queer vote. Macy doubts that will happen. "When I first talked to Sho about running for mayor, he told me he didn't want to run if it was going to be divisive," said Macy. "Some people vote for a gay candidate because they are gay. But in this day and time it doesn't seem like the most important issue anymore. I hope we've gone beyond that."
Even though I'm not beyond that, I can't help but think independent moves like Macy's just might be a move in the right direction.